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SoulMonster

2012.05.21 - Interview with Dizzy

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2012.05.21 - Interview with Dizzy

Post by Soulmonster on Wed May 23, 2012 7:40 pm

On Wednesday, just ahead of their UK tour, I had the opportunity to quickly speak with Guns N’ Roses keyboardist and second longest standing member Dizzy Reed. Read on as we talk about their UK tour, being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, his role within the band and also his brand new solo album which he hopes to release this year.

If you missed it, you can also check out my interview with lead guitarist DJ Ashba who I spoke to before I spoke to Dizzy.

EspyRock: Your tour kicks off tomorrow in Ireland and then into the UK on Saturday, are you looking forward to performing here again?

Dizzy Reed: I’m always stoked to be in the UK. It’s the birthplace of some of my favourite music and we’re all stoked to be back here.

You’ve been playing England more often than the full of the UK and it has been six years since you performed up here in Glasgow so do you have any fond memories of performing here?

The one time that I actually was in Glasgow with Guns N’ Roses, it was hotter than shit [laughs].

There’s no such thing as warmth here.

[Laughs] It was so strange. When we performed it was in the middle of a heat wave, a record setting heat wave throughout the UK and Europe that year, and I just remember not being able to cool off anywhere. The hotel rooms never had air conditioning which was weird for me and the show, it was by far one of the hottest shows I can remember ever playing. At the same time it was really cool to play there and the people were great and they managed to stick it out. I know how hot it was for us so I can only imagine how hot it was for them. I do love Scotland; my ancestors are from Scotland so it is like a little homecoming for me.

I was talking to DJ Ashba just before I called you and he was talking about an entire new show on this tour with a changed set list and stage set up.

Yeah we have changed things up a bit for this tour. It can’t be too much different, we still have to have the drums, bass and guitar [laughs] but we have a basic format that we follow and I think everything we’ve done around it people will appreciate. It’s a kick ass rock show from the bottom up and fans will be hearing some songs that they have never heard before and seeing some things they have never seen before but for the most part it is in fact about the music, about us playing and the people there.

Although the overall show is for the fans, it must be better for yourself and the others to have a new setup now and then because it can’t be easy doing the same three hour, thirty plus song set every night for a year. Not many bands, if there are any, could pull that off on a constant run.

Not without taking a break [laughs]. I guess that’s just the way that Axl [Rose] and we can really feel like we’re giving the people what they deserve. A lot of the songs are ten minutes long so when you start to lumping those together the next thing you know an hour has gone by [laughs].

I want to congratulate you on being inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.


Thank you.

How does it feel to be inducted as a member of Guns N’ Roses and to see your name in there now?

Well it wasn’t without controversy as you know but the whole concept was an honour. It came and went and it is there but right now the tour is the most important thing. I’ve just been focussing on that and believe me, it takes a bit of preparation for me to get ready to come out and do this. It has been quite a hectic few weeks with that and the tour leading up to when we got on the plane to head out.

I hope you don’t mind me asking but considering the honour you were receiving, why didn’t you attend the ceremony? Was that due to tour preparations or did you not feel the circumstances were right due to the controversy?

Well you know Axl decided not to go because he felt that it wasn’t right and I stand by him. The reasons he gave made sense to me and I agreed with him so I chose not to go as well.

When you look at it all, the Hall Of Fame induction really just caused more damage than it did good because while Guns N’ Roses have always been under fire, it just ignited a new wave of hatred and abuse.

Well, like you said “congratulations,” we’re in the Hall Of Fame man and that’s cool. That’s all there is to it now, time for people to move on.

Your induction represents what you have achieved throughout your career with the band, which now stands at twenty two years. Do you feel as if your role has changed over the years, especially as you’re the second longest standing member next to Axl?

You know, I don’t think it has changed a whole heck of a lot to be honest [laughs]. I just try to add, and I always have, what I can to the music in the studio and to the performance when we are performing live. I think if anything I’ve been given a little more freedom over the years because I’ve become a better performer. I’ve been given a little more freedom to do things that I wouldn’t have in the past. In the past it was “you’re not going to play on this song” and that was many many many years ago but now things are different a little bit. Like I said, the most important thing is that I just try to add what I can to make the songs better. In the studio I just try whatever I can, throw some ideas around and just see what sticks to the wall but it’s all about making the songs better. Live it is kind of a similar process but I kind of know what is going to work and what is not going to work. I try not to have any redundancy of sound or tone or anything and visually for the people who are there to see the show.

For those who joined in the last ten years like Richard [Fortus], Bumblefoot, Frank [Ferrer] and DJ [Ashba], did you have to take on something like a father or guidance role to prepare these guys for what Guns N’ Roses is as you’ve been there through a lot of it?

That’s not always been necessary because I’m always there for anybody who may have questions and may need some advice from me but I’d be like that in any situation. All the guys who have joined the band in the last ten years are seasoned professionals from other places so there was no showing them the ropes type situation, it was just basically “welcome to the band and now let’s go kick some ass.”

Obviously the dynamic of the band has changed throughout the years and I know I’m going way back here for this question but when Chris [Pitman] joined in 1998, how did things change for you personally then?

I don’t think there was ever a situation where we said that we needed another keyboard player so let’s try out guys and hold some auditions. Chris had been around for the creative process and he added what he added to the music and it didn’t feel right going out without him there. Because he is who he is and I am who I am, that’s why we have two keyboard players in the band. My place was never threatened.

So how happy and secure is this current line-up? Are things as strong as they appear to be?

I think there is more strength in this line-up. I know happiness is relevant but we do still have our mix of good days and bad days but I love this new line-up. Well it’s not new so I love our current line-up, probably more than any of the other line-ups that we’ve had and I’m totally into it and hope that we can stay together for a long time, knock on wood.

When I was talking to DJ Ashba before, the future is something that he is really looking forward to with Guns N’ Roses. The key thing for him is to record a new album because he is of course performing guitar parts as written by someone else and he wants to put his own personal stamp on the band’s music. He mentioned that you have all, as a band, spoken about the future and also a future release so what’s your current position on the future and progressing with Guns N’ Roses?

Well between the six or seven or eight of us, we all live in different cities so it is really hard for us just to sit down and get to work [laughs] but now that we’re altogether out here for a couple of months then that is something that will come up hopefully. I’m always into trying out new material and recording new stuff. I’ve worked with DJ a little bit in the studio off and on here and there and I’m always recording stuff, ready to play it for people to get their take and their spin on it. I know everyone else is the same boat, I think we all have something set aside or maybe everything set aside for Guns N’ Roses so when it happens it will happen.

So new music isn’t the band’s number one priority right now for the future?

I think our priority right now is the tour and giving people the best, most kick ass show they can get every night.

On your mention that you’re always recording and have some things aside, you are working on your solo album.

Yes that is true. It’s actually something I started tracking probably four years ago, so before it gets into ‘Chinese Democracy’ sort of territory I’ve got ten years [laughs]. Just between touring constantly with Guns N’ Roses and when I’m not touring with Guns N’ Roses I’ve done some other things and I’ve actually been out playing the songs that I’ve recorded around America. Right now the whole process is at the stage where I want to get some good mixes of the songs. Once I have a good solid month or two off that’s going to happen and then it will be done for everyone to hear. It will be about twelve songs.

Will it be a rock record or will you be doing something different?

It’s definitely a rock record. All the guys who are in Guns now have at least performed on one song and Richard Fortus, my dear friend, played on a lot of songs.

And you have actually written a song with Ricky Warwick is that correct?

Yes, one of the songs was co-written by Ricky Warwick who of course sings for Thin Lizzy now. He co-wrote one song with Del James and myself and then he played on another song. There are just all kinds of great musicians from all around LA who appear on it. It’s really exciting. I just can’t wait to get into the studio and work on the proper mix now and then get it out.

What’s your release date hopes for it?


This year would be great but I hate to set deadlines for myself and as you know, some records can take a really long time to come out [laughs]. Just happens for some reason in my life, I don’t know why that is [laughs].

Are you doing all of the lead vocals on the record or is that being handled by someone else?

I do all of the lead vocals. It’s just something that I wanted to do and get out of my hair basically. It has been something that has been sitting around for a long time and a lot of people have heard the demos of what I have done and they all told me that I should record it for real and put it out there so I am. Del James came to me with an opportunity and we found a studio and everything just seemed right with that as we were able to get some great performances. I went in there and sang my heart out as they say.

What actually happened to your cover band Hookers N’ Blow as I know you had been doing that for quite a number of years?

Well I started Hookers N’ Blow in about 2003 after some guys had come up to me with some opportunities to go do some shows in the East Coast of America. They wanted to call it The Dizzy Reed Band and I said I’ll do it but it has to be fun, I don’t want it to be a real band so let’s just call it Hookers N’ Blow and it just started off like that. So many people were in and out of that band because it was all built around whoever was available but we were never a real band. It got to the point that we just tried to see what the fuck we could get away with and we were really great at getting away with a whole lot [laughs] but still putting on a good show. We would play frat parties and then we would play clubs in between, it was that kind of environment. I mean I was on the back lawn of a frat house in Princeton University doing beer bongs and I’m thinking ‘my god I’m forty years old, this is ridiculous’ but it was fun and we did it. Eventually some of the guys started to take it too seriously so I had to disband it before it self-destructed. There were guys who were quitting a band that wasn’t a band, you can’t quit when it’s not a real band and something that doesn’t exist [laughs]. I had a bunch of girls claiming that they broke up the band but they couldn’t break us up because we were never a band. It just got out of hand. Last year a friend of mine, a promoter in LA, asked if Hookers N’ Blow would play at his wedding [laughs], just kind of out there. So they had a big wedding reception at a club called Brixton at Redondo Beach and we got back together just for that and we called it our reunion break-up show. That was definitely the last Hookers N’ Blow show that there will ever be but we still have some t-shirts available which are great, I came up with the design myself and it’s cocaine font and you can’t get them anywhere except the website (website is no longer online).

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